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March 2014

Four Fixes for the Sales and Marketing Rift

Will Spendlove 1Today's guest post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView Inc.


In product marketing, we spend half of our time thinking over and over again about how we can message our product or solutions to the market. Will our message resonate? Will customers care what we have to say? Will people act after hearing our story? Then we figure out how to deliver these messages and stories in the most compelling ways. 

We also hope sales will embrace the message and deliver it to prospects.

Consider the following:

  • Marketers struggle with being viewed as a cost center or revenue-generating function.
  • Marketers need to get away from using the word cost. “Cost per lead” should be stated as “investment per lead.”
  • Marketers are good at measuring activity and bad at measuring outcomes. 

But the ultimate partnership is when sales and marketing march side by side, speaking the same language. Here are four ways you can ensure that your sales and marketing teams are doing just that.

1. Make the sales team part of messaging strategy.

Marketing spends weeks and weeks defining corporate and product messaging and positioning strategy. This is often done in the recesses of the marketing organization.  Asking your marketing counterparts to include you in the strategy and review cycle will ensure that they are using the words and creating the stories you and your team need to succeed.

2. Ensure marketing rides along with sales.

Invite key-product marketing and corporate marketing members to come along on sales calls and meetings. This will help them understand customer objectives and pain and how salespeople speak to customers. They can then take this back to their teams to build the best messages.

3. Build sales tools together.

Often, the sales team throws requests “over the wall” to marketing (demo scripts, call decks, customer stories, playbooks) and expects a great result. But only by collaborating on the objectives, format, and content will the tools be truly useful. If marketing pushes back, stress that the sales team is the ultimate consumer of the output.

4. Make the chief marketing officer (CMO) your information source.

You have quota and target numbers; why not put marketing on the same path? In his new e-book, Revenue and the CMO: How Marketing Will Impact Revenue Through Big Data & Social Selling, Glen Gow defines the strategic relationship of the CMO and the vice president of sales: “By collecting the information most valuable to sales, and by getting that information to them regularly, CMOs can bridge the gap between creating more sales and building more valuable relationships with buyers.  Bridging the two ultimately leads to greater revenue…”    

Everyone is in this together, and marketing managers will be much more willing to collaborate if they feel the thrill of hitting a number with the sales team.

How are you working to speak the same language as your marketing counterparts? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Get Sales Results without Adding to Your Head Count

Neha gohilToday's guest post is by Neha Singh Gohil, director of knowledge management at Prialto.

This post originally appeared on the Prialto blog and is used here with permission.


How many salespeople does your company need?

The precise number depends on the size of the company, your product, and a dozen other variables. But having worked with a variety of sales teams over the years, we’ve noticed a consistent pattern across companies. Often, sales managers who feel their team getting overwhelmed turn to new hires as a knee-jerk solution.

Bringing on a new person entails time spent on a recruitment strategy and lots of money spent on salary, benefits, and the like. In most of these cases, we’ve found an easier solution. Rather than focus on the number of sales reps on board, why not increase the amount of time they spend on selling?

Sales managers tend to treat their best sales reps like generalists. Though they’re hired to sell, sales reps are asked to spend many hours a week entering data into CRM systems, creating sales-performance presentations, or compiling their expenses. Time spent crunching data is taking away from time spent selling the product.

The situation is akin to asking your product engineer to draw up your sales deck. Yes, the engineer knows the product and its purpose but is unlikely to have the sales skills that your reps already use. And pitching isn’t why you hired an engineer. Similarly, data crunching isn’t why you hired your sales reps.

If you stop treating sales reps like generalists, then you can get a lot more out of a lot fewer salespeople. Sales-development folks have a very specific set of soft skills. Here’s how you should be using them:

  1. Presenting: Generating sales decks, portfolio pitches, case studies, etc.
  2. Relationship building: Nurturing contacts and carrying them through the sales process
  3. Pitching: Making qualification calls, introducing the product to new leads and identifying the right targets
  4. Leading a prospect to close: Homing in on real opportunities and getting prospects what they need to make the purchase

This expertise is not easily quantified, and the “tasks” are often ongoing or difficult to complete in a set period of time. Maybe that’s why so many sales managers seek to fill in reps’ so-called slow times with a variety of other tasks. These often include tasks that require hard, quantifiable skills and fail to capitalize on a salesperson’s core competencies.

If your sales team seems understaffed, try cutting out these tasks from your salespeople’s schedules:

  1. Entering and updating meeting data in a CRM system
  2. Lead prospecting
  3. Sending email blasts
  4. Compiling expense spreadsheets for particular accounts
  5. Playing email ping-pong to schedule sales meetings

Off-loading these administrative hassles will not only free up your sales reps to sell but will likely boost their morale and motivation, too.

Three Simple Strategies for Up-Leveling Sales Conversations

Moliski photoToday's post is by Jim Moliski, senior vice president of strategic services at Launch International. For more information about sales enablement, view this recent Webinar featuring experts from Sirius Decisions and Miller Heiman: Game-Changing Sales Enablement: Repeatable Conversations that Drive Revenue.



Are your salespeople under pressure to sell higher or more strategically? Do your content and tools support that approach? Too often, sales portals are packed with product information. Sellers need guidance on trends, issues, problems, and outcomes, but what they get is information about features and functions. You can’t fix this problem overnight, but you can take some positive steps right away to reinforce more strategic sales approaches.

Here are three simple, short-term strategies to help up-level sales conversations:

1. Profile your key buyers.

Most sales training teaches you to understand buyers, yet sales content often lacks information on who these buyers are and what they care about. Simple documents on the most common three to five buying roles can help your sellers develop the confidence to engage with more strategic audiences.

Start by interviewing your most successful salespeople. Ask them to name their most common targets: Who are they, and what do they care about? How do salespeople get in front of them? If possible, also ask customers who fit these descriptions to tell you about their challenges. 

For the buyer roles, summarize the following:

-       their responsibilities,

-       the functions they manage,

-       what they care about,

-       what gets them promoted or fired,

-       how they can be reached.


2. Summarize big-picture insight.

Successful salespeople get buyers to think differently about their problems and how to solve them. Your press releases, Website, and marketing campaigns often contain a wealth of insight on buyer issues and the unique ways your company helps address them. With minimum effort, you can summarize this insight and add guidance on how to use it to develop business.

Start by reviewing the source materials mentioned above and interviewing subject matter experts. Then create a simple set of coaching documents that summarize the following: 

-       What trend is impacting buyers?

-       What problems or opportunities is the trend creating?

-       How do buyers need to change?

-       What is the benefit of changing and the cost of not changing?

-       What can your company do to help?


3. Ask sales management to help get the word out.

A salesperson’s time is a precious, closely guarded commodity. How can you enable these new approaches when training can take weeks to schedule? Try enlisting your first-line sales managers. Sellers talk to their bosses frequently and tend to listen to them. Give sales managers some brief training, and encourage them to use every meeting as an enablement opportunity. Give them simple guidelines and tools, and provide anecdotes on how the most successful managers do it. Here are some opportunities for coaching: 

-       Deal-review calls

-       Pre-meeting planning

-       Team meetings

-       Weekly check-in


Want to learn more? Check out these free resources from Launch International. 

6 Steps to Giving Your Sales Teams the Content They Need (and Want) (eBook)

Few and Improved: How to Create Less Content That Drives More Sales (Executive Brief)

Thoughtful Selling™: Drive Differentiation Through Insight (eBook)


5 Tips to Closing Bigger Sales with More People, More Often

Marc Wayshak - Game Plan Selling Headshot SMALL (1)

Today’s guest post is by Marc Wayshak, author of Game Plan Selling: The Definitive Rulebook for Closing the Sale in the Age of the Well-Informed Prospect and Breaking All Barriers: Insider Secrets to a Limitless Life.

When seeking to develop a football team, only amateur coaches spend all their time trying to improve the offense. This leaves the defense and special teams lacking and vulnerable. In much the same way, only an amateur will focus exclusively on acquiring more customers when looking to develop sales at an organization. This is just one of three important ways to increase sales, and it leaves much to be desired. An organization can increase sales also by closing bigger sales and selling more to existing customers. Companies that focus on all three of these areas will dramatically increase sales. Even minimal growth in each of these spaces can lead to a significant rise in sales.

Here are five tips to help you acquire new customers, close bigger sales, and sell more to existing customers so your sales will spike:

  1. Be distinct: Just saying that you're different from your competition doesn’t make you so. It's time to start actually behaving differently. Understand that your competitors are out there trying to persuasively and enthusiastically pitch their products and services. Your prospects expect this old-school selling tactic, so don't do it! Instead, be truly distinct by being genuine and following the steps below.

  2. Seek to understand: Most salespeople spend the majority of their time in selling situations talking about how great their company, products, and services are. This is the oldest trick in the book. If you want to acquire new customers while closing bigger sales and becoming a long-term strategic advisor to customers, then spend more time asking your prospects questions about their challenges and goals. Think of it this way: your customers aren't buying products or services from you, they're investing in solutions to their challenges in order to achieve specific outcomes.

  3. Disqualify: Most salespeople’s pipelines are full of junk, which means that the business they expect to close in the near future is often not likely to close at all. This is because many salespeople are trying to persuade prospects to do business with them. The problem with persuasion is that it assumes that every prospect is a good fit for what you have to offer. In reality, at least 50 percent of prospects are not a match. Rather than ask, “How do I persuade this prospect?” ask, “Is this prospect qualified for what I have to offer?” Change your mind-set, and you will begin spending more time with only qualified prospects.

  4. Create value: Salespeople often complain that they're getting beaten down on price. This happens for one simple reason: prospects don’t see real value in what the salespeople are selling. When a conversation is all about price, it's a sign that you're not creating value in your sales conversation. How do you create value? Focus on what the prospect cares about: solving challenges and achieving outcomes. Say you discover that a challenge is keeping your prospect’s organization from earning an additional $3 million. If you can explain to your prospect that you have a specific solution to that problem that will translate into an extra $3 million in revenue, do you think your prospect will try to beat you down on price? No way!

  5. Sell higher: We are more comfortable selling to people who are not decision makers. Selling to the higher levels in an organization takes most salespeople out of their comfort zone. But the problem with selling to people other than decision makers is that they can’t tell you yes. All they can do is tell you no. The most effective salespeople are selling at the highest reasonable levels within an organization. This could mean selling to presidents and CEOs or to VPs and directors; it all depends on who the best decision maker is for what you sell. Remember that it takes just as much time to sell to someone with the title of president as it does to sell to someone with the title of buyer; however, the more consistently you sell at high levels, the bigger the sales will be, because high-level decision makers choose solutions based on value, not price.

By following these five tips, you will close more sales, and the sales you close will be larger. These types of transactions will frame you as a strategic advisor, which means that prospects will buy from you far more frequently. Don’t be the football coach who focuses only on the team’s offense. Instead, lay out your strategy to improve all three areas of sales growth, and reap the rewards of bigger sales with more people, more frequently.

Do you have tips for closing bigger sales? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

Sales Excellence Begins with You

PaulShapiro_100Today's Paul Shapiro is a managing partner at vie™.



Almost one year ago, I visited my physician for a checkup and blood work. I learned that my cholesterol was high and that I had several other indicators that weren’t very good. My doctor told me, “This is very common,” and suggested I consider taking a statin, like so many other males over 40.

I hated that idea.

So I took matters into my own hands. I watched a movie (Forks Over Knives) and read a book (The China Study). Both had a profound impact on my view of processed foods and the outcome of an American diet.

When I was finally convinced that I alone was responsible for my own good health, I did something radical: I stopped eating meat and dairy foods. The guy who loved to eat all foods, especially bacon, woke up and said, “I can make this change,” and I became a vegan.

Within six months of eating no meat or dairy products, my cholesterol went from 270 to 131. I also saw significant improvement in my blood pressure, A1C, and several other indicators. I lost 30 pounds, my body mass index greatly improved, and I never felt hungry. I didn’t even miss bacon.

It’s been a year, and I’m still 100 percent on track.

I feel so much better. I have more energy and clarity than ever before. I’m not trying to convert anyone to a vegan lifestyle (although I’m happy to discuss or answer questions about the experience any time). What I want to share is this: I realized my health experience dovetailed directly with my business experience, and both experiences share the same principles.

Over the last decade, as my vie™ colleagues and I worked tirelessly to perfect the sales-excellence process for our clients, we observed and coached thousands of salespeople and managers from some incredible companies. Here’s how the principles of success overlap.

1.  You have to create a blueprint for success, and you must follow it.

When I was creating a blueprint to achieve better health, I identified what I would eat and what I wouldn’t. I learned about the rewards of proper nutrition and the dangers of my current lifestyle, and I developed a strategy and plan to reverse my weaknesses. That was my blueprint.

How could you deconstruct your sales role and reengineer it for high performance? When you think about each step of your selling process, what things could you do differently? As a manager, coach, or leader, what approach could you change to produce better outcomes? What things do you need to stop or start doing? Write it out and create your blueprint.

2.  You are what you consume. Literally.

I admit it: I was filling my body with the wrong nourishment – fatty foods, chemically processed foods, and loads of sugar, all leading to (inevitable) long-term health problems.

What are you filling your mind with every day? Are you consuming information that could help you show your clients that you are a scary-smart advisor? Are you looking around, taking note of what competitors are doing, and collecting new ideas and insight to improve client business? Or are you just showing up with the same stale approach? Skipping good nutrition and substance in this area will have detrimental effects on your ability to help your clients and prospects.

3.  You CAN change ingrained habits.

Have you ever experienced an epiphany? Realized that something needs to change?

I was terrified by my blood work and didn’t want to have a heart attack at 50 like my father did. This jolted me to make some radical changes. Thankfully, it wasn’t too late.

What will be your epiphany? A missed opportunity? Being passed over for a promotion? A job loss? When you reflect on the value you bring to your clients, are you everything they hoped for? Are old habits keeping you stuck in place? Are you too comfortable in your routine? Could you change it up to be more positive, unexpected, and valuable?

Sometimes people wait so long to change, and then it’s too late. The competition swoops in and takes your business. These people lose out on opportunities, or worse, become irrelevant. You’ve heard the saying “Pay now or pay later”? Pay now, because paying later is much more painful.

4.  To be great, you have to practice.

You are what you practice most, and I was determined to practice a lifestyle that would lower my cholesterol and change my health.

To achieve excellence, you need to make sure the changes you put in place aren’t temporary.

When it came to my health, I needed to do several things to ensure that my behavioral change would become a permanent approach to life. I needed to make sure I was eating the right food, exercising according to my plan, and keeping my nose in the research so I always felt motivated and knowledgeable, and not just once in a while but daily. A daily practice of the right disciplines will form a new habit. I told myself I needed new habits not new medicine.

Sales excellence is no different. Ask yourself what habits you’re practicing. Are you putting in the time to prepare for every client encounter? Have you practiced for your next meeting so that you are sharper and genuinely ready? Are you focused on the right disciplines and habits that will lead to success? 

The big takeaway is this: we have the ability to improve. Will there be surprises and challenges that are out of our control?  Of course, but the reality is, there are many chronic conditions in our health and business that can be reversed, controlled, and even avoided.

No one will do this for you. It must begin with you.

It’s Just Sales, Stupid

Gretchen DeKnikkerToday’s post is by Gretchen DeKnikker, cofounder and CMO of SocialPandas.




“Social selling” has become the buzzword in sales, and it has come with an onslaught of training on how to become a “social salesperson.” Really, sales is still sales. It’s still about listening. It’s still about uncovering a pain point and finding a solution. It’s still about relationships and connecting on a human level.  

In the not-so-distant past, a sales rep would walk into a prospect’s office and instantly profile the individual. From the display of family photos and diplomas to a mug bearing a sports team’s mascot, experienced reps would identify multiple points of connection in the first 30 seconds. They had an instant sense of who they were meeting and could use this insight to build the kind of rapport and credibility that repeatedly win deals.

Even with the ascent of new technologies, relationships remain the foundation for B2B sales. You may meet via Web conference or “ink” the deal with an electronic signature, but at the end of the day, people still buy from people. Yet most of today’s typical social-selling prescription advises sales reps to behave like marketers, publishing content and mining for buying signals in 140 characters or fewer.

SocialPandas, the ultimate wingman for sales,is a powerful tool that scours pervasive, publicly available social data, making it easy to quickly get to know your prospect.  Beyond just the static intelligence your predecessor gathered walking into an actual office, SocialPandas delivers timely, relevant insight into what is top of mind for prospects. Insight about the conferences they attend, their pursuits, such as cycling or chess, or their love of a certain brand of coffee can be used to build rapport throughout the sales cycle, because connecting in real life is truly social in sales.

For the past two years, we’ve observed our users incorporating social selling in many forms. Here are a few of our slightly contrarian best practice recommendations:

Put down the megaphone and strategize. If you blindly start broadcasting into the digital abyss because you read that customers complete 50 to 70 percent of their buying process before reaching a salesperson, then you’re probably going to invest a tremendous amount of time that yields disappointing results. Yes, the buyer journey is evolving, but social channels are not a magical lead-generation unicorn that will turn your desk phone into an ATM.

It’s OK to lurk. You don’t have to engage in Twitter streams and troll LinkedIn groups to enter the age of social. That’s not to say that reps shouldn’t gather that widely available insight.They absolutely can and must.When used effectively, social media opens up an entirely new source of intelligence for even nonsocial marketing mavens. 

Leverage social intelligence your way. The use of social channels comes naturally to some, and it didn’t happen overnight for those who have cracked the social-selling code. When reps choose to interact on social channels, some take a very personal approach with their prospects, while others keep it all business. It’s all about what works for you. Altering your style to incorporate social best-practices will come across as disingenuous. If you think Twitter is stupid or sharing content is marketing’s job, it’s OK to do it your way.

Sales has always been and will continue to be social. Follow the adage, “Keep calm and carry on,” and evolve in a way that works for you. Oh, and let SocialPandas deliver the social insight you need to win. Email to sign up for early access.

Read more about SocialPandas.

How a Major Crisis Created a Business Opportunity for Richard Branson

Mark Donnolo, SalesGlobeToday’s guest post is by Mark Donnolo, managing partner of SalesGlobe and author of The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results and What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation: Connecting the Corner Office to the Front Line.



Most people assume that constraints are a bad thing, but in reality, business constraints can actually be a catalyst for creative solutions and new opportunities.

Consider how Virgin Atlantic responded to a major crisis just two years after it was founded. Allen Kay, chairman and CEO of Korey Kay & Partners, an award-winning advertising agency in charge of Virgin’s brand at the time, recently told me that, initially, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson aimed his high-frills, low-fare airline at 20-something Americans traveling to England. When the United States became embroiled in a conflict with Libya, however, international travel declined and the airline’s nascent customer base dissipated.

At first, Branson was set to completely shut down the airline, but Kay worked with him to find a solution. After asking some questions, Kay discovered that first-class passengers were still filling seats. He figured that these businesspeople with billions of dollars on the line in pending deals would fly during a heightened terrorism threat because the deals were worth the risk. Kay suggested reconfiguring the seats to make first class bigger (a fairly simple task) and promoting the empty seats to first-class flyers. Branson approved the idea, profit soared, and the airline was saved from having to shut down.

So when Kay and Virgin Atlantic found themselves faced with a serious constraint – their target customer was no longer flying – they got creative and ultimately made the airline better. Today, the airline is known for its affordable upper class and unique customer experience.

Constraints enable creativity. It sounds like a paradox, but without constraints, options are unlimited. For example, if your customer needs a new CRM system and has no budget or time constraints, it would be easy to sell that customer a product. It’s more likely, however, that your customer would have a tight budget, a three-month time frame, and an obligation to get approval from the CFO, who may or may not be a fan of your product. How can you devise a sales strategy that will close this deal?

While every industry faces specific challenges, a sales organization’s constraints will most often involve the following:

  • Time. A deadline must be met.
  • Organization limitations. The talent, manpower, or policies of the organization limit what can be achieved for the customer.
  • Supplier capabilities. Providers have practical limitations, including the amount of product they can provide to the organization and how quickly they can provide it.
  • Cost. Labor and material costs limit the company’s margins.
  • Quota. The organization must reach a performance objective.
  • Customer requirements. Customers have high expectations and performance hurdles.
  • Competitive environment. Competitors’ capabilities sometimes dictate what the customers want.
  • Price. The customer or market values the offer at a certain dollar amount.

When was the last time you or your team came up with an idea to solve a customer’s problem? What else could you have done for the customer if you hadn’t been limited by budget or other constraints? Start thinking of constraints as opportunities for creativity. You never know – this way of approaching challenges could lead to a great business idea.

Seven Reasons Competition Fails for Sales

Mario hergerToday’s post is by Mario Herger, CEO, founder, and partner of Enterprise Gamification Consultancy LLC and coauthor of Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software. He will speak about gamification and motivation at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5-6.  



Conventional wisdom holds that salespeople love competition. They want a challenge, a chance to race against their friends and colleagues, and the opportunity to land at the top of the leaderboard. Sales managers constantly use carrots and competition because this is what motivates salespeople ...but is that true?

In actuality, competition sometimes puts stress on the relationships between sales agents, colleagues, and customers. Here are seven reasons why that’s so:

1. Competition is the opposite of collaboration.

When we work together, we can achieve more than we can working as individuals. If we pit sales reps against one another to compete for a scarce item, such as a bonus or the top spot on a leaderboard, we can also discourage collaboration.

2. Competition motivates only a select group.

If you’ve used competition in the past, have you also crunched the numbers? Then you've likely found that only a small percentage of your sales force actually participates and hits the top. But what about the others? It is nearly always better to find a way to lift the sales numbers of the whole team. A better strategy is to lift 20 sales agents by 10 percent, not just have the first two reps double their sales.

3. If viewed as unfair, competition can undermine morale.

When the competition is considered unfair or unbalanced  (say a certain sales rep has an advantage because he or she happens to sell in a good region, for example) and offers no realistic chance for some people to win, salespeople are less likely to participate.

As I reported in this blog post, Maury Weinstein, president of IT company System Source, mentioned that 20 to 30 percent of his sales managers' time was spent dealing with administration to determine commission and competition. Sales reps kept arguing about why they should have gotten the bonus, why it was not their fault, why the circumstances made the competition unfair. Once they got rid of it, management had more time for business development.

4. Competition can lead to burnout.

After several days, competition loses its power. Competing all the time can lead to burnout. While sales reps focus their energy on closing deals during the competition, they start taking a break once it’s over, and this can lead to a dip in deals. Moreover, the dips may zero out all the gains from the competitive period.

5. Competition can lead to negative interpersonal behavior.

We like to think that we’re not sore losers, but sometimes our ego gets the best of us. In our weaker moments, maybe we harbor negative feelings about someone who won something we wanted for ourselves. Competition can exacerbate this in some sales cultures, and this isn’t an attitude that helps build a trusting and fruitful long-term relationship with clients and co-workers.

6. Competition has the potential to alienate customers.

Salespeople are usually extroverts. Most love socializing, making friends, and being trusted. Now, what happens if they are asked to close as quickly as possible and treat the customer, not as a friend, but as a rung on the ladder of success? A customer might sense that the rep is not looking out for his or her best interests and shut out the rep. When a competitive sales setup encourages reps to ram products and services down your customers’ throats to boost short-term sales, in the long term, they’ll damage the relationship with the customer.

7. Competition leaves you with many “losers.”

How many people can be at the top of a leaderboard? Exactly one. Even with 200 sales reps, you have only one winner, and while you’ve motivated one person, you’ve demotivated 199.

What is the alternative to competition? This is where gamification can help. Using game design elements and encouraging autonomy, feedback, and collaboration, gamification helps sales reps pull off more and on a longer term than competition would ever enable.

What are your thoughts on using competition to fuel sales success? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Making Customers Instead of Finding Them

LaVon Koener 2Today's post is by LaVon Koerner, Chief Revenue Officer of Revenue Storm, which he cofounded in 2000 to offer companies worldwide a suite of comprehensive, proven tools and techniques for profitable revenue growth. Download Revenue Storm’s latest white paper, “How a Successful Coaching Strategy Increases Revenue.” 



The way we conduct business today is different from how we conducted business in the past. We communicate differently, discover information differently, and share information differently. So while buyers are buying differently, are you selling differently?

If your sales organization is functioning as it did a few years ago, chances are you’re having problems hitting your revenue-growth goals, and when you reach the point at which there are not enough customers to be found, they will have to be made. That necessitates a change in your organization’s approach to market. Sales leaders need to stop depending on salespeople to just sell better and lead them to sell differently. To appreciate what it means to sell differently, compare these two very different approaches to selling:

Demand Capture – Finding and fulfilling a preexisting and known need with a product or service in order to solve a known pain. This is the traditional approach to selling used by most organizations for the past 30-plus years.

● Demand Creation – Creating within an individual and/or organization a burning, “must have” need for a product or service in which there was previously little to no interest in order to fulfill a newly conceived vision of some coveted gain.

We know that the way information is shared has evolved. Ninety-three percent of B2B buyers use an Internet search to begin the buying process. The sales professional is no longer the conduit of basic data. Sales organizations and salespeople who don’t get this are becoming obsolete. The advancement of the Information Age is forcing the redefinition of the sales professional’s role in B2B selling.

This transformation changes the organization’s dependence on buyer-initiated buying processes to seller-initiated sales campaigns. That means that selling is no longer just a function of uncovering and/or responding to preexisting demand but is about creating demand where none existed before. The nature of this demand is typically not product-centric but business-centric. This requires educating the customer about a business gain that might not have been on his or her radar.

The days of reactive, order-taking salespeople are numbered. The demand-capturing salesperson’s role as simply an information provider has been downgraded. When combined with the growth of e-commerce and the resulting de-emphasis on the service provider as an order taker and processor, it leaves one wondering, “What is their role? How can their role even be justified?”

The answer is to shift focus toward the human end of the spectrum. The Internet provides product and pricing access and ease. What it doesn’t provide is innovative judgment and the ability to alert a customer to unknown areas of gain. The sales professional of the future will need to excel in this area – working with the prospect, sifting through and distilling data to help achieve a solution for advancing his or her company in new and creative ways. This is the heart of demand creation. You can either change now because you want to, or you can change later when you have to.

Selling is changing. Are you ready?

Using Questions to Connect with Buyers

Deb CalvertToday’s guest post by Deb Calvert, author of DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected. Download this free chapter today. 


It’s been said that asking questions is an art, an appealing expression requiring craftsmanship and finesse. It’s also been said that asking questions is a science, a systematic process requiring knowledge gained through observation and experimentation.

In selling, there are two schools of thought when it comes to using questions as a means to connect with buyers and advance sales to a close. You can find numerous books and training courses on this subject, and every one of them will lean one way or the other.

Sellers (and, in some cases, entire industries) adopt the school best suited to their own sales processes and/or personalities. In technical fields and complex selling, you usually find a scientific process for asking questions. With more frequent encounters between buyers and sellers, including most B2C sales, there’s a higher likelihood questions are seen as an art form with companion training related to psychology, neuroscience, storytelling and the like.

The problem with selecting one over the other? You are missing out on the full, varied and rich information that a mix of questions yields. Your technique limits you. Process drives certain types of questions. Expression drives different types.

When it comes to asking questions in selling, the versatility to use a full range of questions will give you a complete set of tools. As a scientist, you may not need a paintbrush all that often. As an artist, you may not use a microscope every day. But equipping yourself with tools that diversify your questions will give you much more to work with.

The acronym DISCOVER stands for eight distinct purposes of asking questions. Check yourself to see which ones you may be missing, and then you can fill your toolbox for art or science as needed.

Data Questions: for getting factual, objective information

Issue Questions: for probing dissatisfaction

Solutions Questions: for collaborating to co-create solutions

Consequence Questions: for revealing risks and concerns

Outcome Questions: for understanding hopes, dreams, plans, goals and visions

Value Questions: for prioritizing needs and motivating factors

Example Questions: for drawing comparisons and imagining possibilities

Rationale Questions: for understanding how decisions will be made    

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